Defenders maintain readiness with new M18 pistol

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Eugene Oliver
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 423rd Security Forces Squadron completed an M18 handgun qualification course at RAF Molesworth, England, July 28, 2020.

The course introduced Airmen to the new M18 Sig Sauer Modular handgun system, which will be replacing the M9 Beretta which has been in use by Security Forces for over 30 years.

“SFS is making a change from the M9 to the M18 because of reports from the field along with feedback from students and instructors over many years,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Campbell, 423rd SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of combat arms training and maintenance.

“The M18 is a huge upgrade given that it is a modular pistol, so we now have the capability to add in light to the lower rail system along with other components that we previously couldn’t. Overall, there should be more durability with the M18, you have three different grip settings to adjust for hand size, (and) also the M18 is able to carry more rounds than the M9 thus increasing our lethality.”

The course consisted of a classroom portion where students were taught about the functional differences between the M9 and the M18. Students were also required to disassemble the M18 to learn about its internal components.

“The major difference between the M9 and the M18 is the action; the M9 is a hammer action pistol that fires double action and single action,” said Campbell. “The switch better defends the base (and) with this being a new weapon system, the big thing that this pistol has over the Beretta outside of the modular capabilities is the fact that you don’t have the double action - that heavy trigger squeeze like you did with the M9. With the M18 you have the same trigger squeeze every time you fire the weapon which allows our defenders to be more accurate and more consistent.”

After the classroom portion, students went out to the CATM range and fired the M18 to experience the difference between the two pistols firsthand.

“What I like most about the new pistol is that there’s only one action so it’s much easier to shoot,” said Senior Airman Jose Hensheid, 423rd SFS emergency communications center controller, “The M9 has more trigger weight so I definitely liked the lighter capabilities of the M18 along with its bigger magazine.”

All of the Airmen who completed the course are now qualified on the M18. Campbell spoke on how important this training is for the future of SFS along with its significance to base security.

“This training maintains readiness through making sure our defenders know the equipment they’re working with,” said Campbell. “It is very important for us to train our Airmen on this new equipment and teach them the nuances that come with the M18. You can never spend too much time learning how to fire, new techniques, and how to draw your weapon. It’s a perishable skill and any amount of time you spend doing it and finding ways to improve is worth its weight in gold.”

The M18 will soon be utilized by military service members across the entire Department of Defense. Campbell spoke about how the new weapons will shape the future of the U.S. Air Force in terms of defense and readiness.

“I believe this is a monumental time for our career field,” said Campbell. “When we get new weapons systems it shows that SFS leadership is listening to the feedback from the field, our defenders will need some time to adjust to the new pistol but I think that whenever we can give our defenders better equipment it increases lethality for our cops.”